Interval training adds power, endurance for cyclists
Even the most recreational cyclist has expectations of gaining fitness while out on a fun spin around Truckee. Many of us have ridden up Donner Summit and timed ourselves to see where we stand against our buddies.But what many cyclists donandamp;#8217;t know is that simply cruising will not give them significant gains in their fitness. Noticeable gains are accomplished through stressing the body in different ways in order to achieve adaptation. Luckily, stressing the bodyandamp;#8217;s cardio-vascular system is not incredibly complicated and can be achieved in a relatively short, yet intense interval workout.Building the appropriate base is an important step to take before starting an interval training program. Therefore, the average cyclist should spend at least four to six weeks riding four to eight hours a week at an easy to moderate pace. Once a cyclist has the appropriate base, itandamp;#8217;s time to start building that base with two different types of intervals.The first type of interval is called a threshold interval and is designed to improve a cyclistandamp;#8217;s power during a 10- to 60-minute effort. Increasing threshold power gives a cyclist the ability to ride at 20 mph instead of 15 mph. My favorite interval threshold workout is 3 x 20s. A 3 x 20 workout should be started with a 15- to 20-minute easy warm-up spin. Once warmed up, a cyclist should aim to perform three sets of 20-minute intervals with a 10-minute rest in between sets. The goal of the 20-minute threshold interval is to perform all three sets at the same high level of intensity. The intensity should be set at the highest level a cyclist can perform for all 20 minutes.The second type of essential interval is a VO2 max interval. These types of intervals are typically three to five minutes in length and help to improve a cyclistandamp;#8217;s burst of power during a short effort. Probably the most popular VO2 max interval workout is the 5 x 5. Ride as hard as you can for five minutes, but at a pace you think you can maintain for all five sets. Take a five-minute rest (easy spin) in between sets, hence, 5 x 5. An easy 15-minute cool-down spin is necessary after any interval workout in order to help the body recover after such an intense workout.Probably the most important aspect of an interval program is rest, both before and after the workout. Therefore, itandamp;#8217;s essential that the cyclist go into the workout with fresh legs and then allow the body to recover after the workout by not riding too hard the following two days. The fitter a cyclist becomes, the more often they can train with intervals. But generally speaking, interval workouts should not be performed more than twice in one week. Additionally, cyclists should take a full week of rest (easy riding, no intervals) after training for four consecutive weeks in order to allow the body to recover and prevent over training. Bringing intensity to your summer rides in the form of intervals will undoubtedly bring you power and endurance on the bike like youandamp;#8217;ve never had before. Lastly, before starting any interval training program, you should consult your physician to make sure youandamp;#8217;re fit to train hard. andamp;#8212; Team rider Jesse Miller-Smith is the author of this weekandamp;#8217;s Marc-Pro-Strava Racing column. For more information, results and upcoming events, visit http://marcpro-strava.com.